H1B Visas are used by US businesses to recruit foreign workers in special occupations that require theoretical and/or practical knowledge in a highly specialised field of work or study. Professionals that commonly come under this category are Engineers, Computer programmers and Scientists.
To be qualified for an H1B visa you should have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree, atleast 12 years’ work experience, or higher education with experience. A minimum of 12 points are required to be qualified for the visa. For every year of College or University you get 3 points and every year of work experience gets you 1 point.
Requirements to Fulfil
There are certain requirements you need to fulfil to be eligible to apply for an H1B Visa.
1 – You need fall under the criteria of an employee who is employed by an US employer. An employee is someone who can be hired, supervised, paid and fired by the employer. In case you own a company, you need to prove that there is a Board of Directors or Shareholder stakes that can carry out the responsibilities of an employer, if needed.
You could provide your Stock Purchase Agreement, Capitalization Table, Investor Rights Agreement, Operating Agreements, etc., to prove the authority of external bodies to take the role of your employer. You should clearly state in the cover letter that you are the owner of the company and how you have provided enough proof for the fact that other stakeholders of your company can control the terms and conditions of your employment.
2 – Your job must qualify as a special occupation job in your field of study. It must be complex enough to require a minimum of a bachelor’s or equivalent degree. The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Department of Labor is used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to determine if a particular job requires a degree.
3 – You must have a degree that is related to your field of job.
You can prove the same by providing details of your position, your nature of job and how your degree relates to your job responsibilities.
You can provide list of associations describing how your degree is related to your field of job.
You can also gather references from experts in your field stating how your degree is related to your job profile.
If you do not hold a degree in your field of work then you can still qualify if you meet the below requirements:
If you are holding an unrestricted license or certification from competent authorities that authorises you to fully carry out your job responsibilities.
If you have underwent specialised training with sufficient experience that would enable you to handle your responsibilities efficiently. Your experience should be equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the US. Three years of work experience is considered equal to one year of college.
4 – You should be paid as per the prevailing rates or actuals – whichever is higher. The geographical location of your employment and your work profile are taken into account to determine the prevailing rate of your wage. You must submit a Labor Condition Application, certified by the Labor Secretary, to demonstrate that you will be paid the appropriate wage for your position.
The USCIS have already reached the maximum limit of H1B Visa intakes for the year 2016. More than 20,000 H1B Visas have already been filed under the advanced degree exemption. The current cap set by the Congress is 65,000 H1B non-immigrant Visas for the year, out of which 6,800 are earmarked for the implementation of the free trade agreements that US has with countries like Chile and Singapore. Unused visas from this category will carried forward to the next year.
Exemptions from the Cap
H1B Visa holders who are employed in Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam are exempted from the H1B cap.
Applicants with a US Master’s or higher Degree are exempt from the cap.
H1B workers who are employed in higher education or in government or non-profit research institutions are also exempt from the cap.
Request for an employee or a petition for an extension should only be filed within 6 months prior to the intended start date of the employment. The US govt fiscal year starts from October 1st, which means that you can apply for an H1B Visa from April 1st. Since H1B visa caps are quickly filled, it is important to plan well in advance so you can be ready with necessary documentations at the time of application.